Bill and Kit’s 2019 Excellent Adventure, Journal #12

Life is either a great adventure or nothing.
Helen Keller

Thursday, March 28, 2019: Departed at 1023 hours from Eagle Hammock RV Park at King’s Bay Navy Submarine Base in Southeast Georgia. It’s a warm and sunny morning as we wound our way through the town of Saint Mary’s heading toward the Interstate. A few minutes into our days travel, a Check Engine Light illuminated on the truck’s Drivers Information Console. Pulling off into a nearby Walmart parking lot, I ran diagnostics on the engine and discovered a DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) trouble code. Arggg, the trial and tribulations of RV travel!?!?

The trucks engine seemed to be running normally, but not wanting to chance the open road with a potential engine problem I called the folks at Eagle Hammock…

…look kind of familiar? As it turned out the office folks hadn’t checked us out, so we were able to return to the spot we had just vacated.

Once safely camped at our original partial hook-up site, I called the local Chevrolet Dealer and explained my problem and how it was impacting my travel plans. Fortunately, the service manager said to bring the truck in first thing in the morning.


Friday, March 28 until Whenever, 2019-King’s Bay, Georgia: Up early and off to the dealer where they discovered the same fault codes I had, and said it was a common problem with a General Motors Technical Service Bulletin covering the issue. The good news is that the repairs will be covered by GM, the bad news is that the early DEF model tanks were a high failure item and on backorder. Another piece of good news is that the truck is still drivable, as long as we don’t exceed 100 miles of driving…and if we do, the speed will be restricted to 65 MPH for the following 100 miles, and so on. I guess this process of restricting vehicle speed in distance segments, known as “Limp Home Mode”, is better than in the old days when cars would just up and quit!

So, we have a few bonus days to further explore this fabulous area and to work off the frustrations of being delayed. Towards that goal, Kit and I decided to enjoy an afternoon walk along some of the paths the trails that honeycomb this part of the base.

As we ambled along a base perimeter path, we noticed something slowly moving up ahead…

…yep a geriatric turtle, which was methodically making his/her way toward a marshy area just off the path.

Had this been a roadway, I would have picked the old fellow up and relocated him closer to his destination, but this was a path vehicle restricted so thought he would be just fine making his way leisurely toward the swamp.

As we continued to walk along, Kit noticed some unusual flowering weeds the likes of which we haven’t seen in other parts of the country.

Not a clue what it is, but thought it unique and colorful enough to photograph.

Also photographed another native species that is prevalent in the American Southeast…

…the Saw Palmetto, which grows in abundance in this humid and tropical environment.

In addition, I snapped many photos of the granddaddy of them all…the Live Oak, which is usually hosting a parasitic shrub known as Spanish Moss draped from it’s massive spreading limbs.

The Spanish Moss does not harm the Oak tree, so this symbiotic relationship remains in natural harmonious balance.

Then, occasionally, while walking along one come across the proverbial Snake in the Grass…in this case a harmless Black Snake.

Which slithered away from the path as we approached…much to Kit’s relief.

A few days into our unplanned stay, the nice folks at MWR worked out a way for us to move from our partial hook-up site in the low rent district to a premium full hook-up site fronting the lake!

Where we enjoyed a very nice view…

…and a picnic table to do some barbequing…

…in the warm afternoon sun. Life is indeed good!

During our stay lakeside, there were two days when millions of flying insects hatched out and covered every surface!

They didn’t bite nor bother either of us…

…and the RV Park’s fisherman were glad to see this hatch as it made their attempts at fly-fishing much more productive.

One of our mutual pleasures while on the road is to visit random small towns and walk about to see what we can discover…to this point, one day we stumbled into the town of Darien, Georgia.

This two square mile village of 1,975 folks sits on the Altamaha River and is home to a small but productive shrimping fleet.

Yea, the gathering storm clouds are arriving from the west as predicted…might get wet at some point this evening!

The center of town features the usual storefronts, such as the Turnip Greens Country Market…

…where if they don’t have it in stock, then there’s a good chance you don’t need it!

Darien, being the shrimp fishing port that it is boasts several seafood restaurants, such as Skippers Fish Camp…

…which was overseen by Myrtle the Guard Turtle who held court in a cement pond near the front door.

This coastal restaurant has their own shrimp boat moored riverside…

…can’t get much fresher seafood than having a fishing boat in your restaurant equipment inventory!

Inside Skippers Fish Camp the casual nautical motif was inviting…

… and our window seat was perfect for the two of us.

Kit ordered the Crab cake and Scallops…

…and I went for the Tempura Fried Shrimp…

…both of which were delicious!

After dinner, we strolled along the riverfront and marveled that some of the buildings from Darien’s early days were still standing…

…and others, made of Tabby were slowing losing their battle against mother nature.

Tabby is a form of concrete developed in the 1800’s for building construction. It was developed due to the unavailability of materials to create traditional cement and the high cost of importing bricks to the American Coastal Southeast. Tabby is made from oyster shells, sand, wood ash and water…

…being a bit porous, it was not as durable as other building materials of the time so most Tabby structures were plastered with stucco. However remarkably, when properly maintained, many examples of Tabby buildings remain standing today.

One structure that fortunately did not use Tabby was the Sidney Lanier Bridge we crossed many times during our stay.

This trip, as we approached from the north, I noticed a small park under the bridges approach that provided excellent views of this imposing, and very important structure…as well as an information kiosk adorned with a beautiful mosaic crafted by a local Girl Scout.

Opened in 2003, the 2,500-foot-long cable-stayed bridge is supported by 176 cable bundles containing a total of 484 miles of wire. The Sidney Lanier Bridge replaced an earlier lift bridge that was prone to ship collisions and was also disruptive to vehicle and ship traffic. Spanning the Brunswick River, this new bridge provides vehicle travel on US-17, while commercial shipping glides under the bridge on its way to Port Brunswick.

Returning to our campsite, the storm had largely passed this part of Georgia, but the retreating clouds provided a nice palette for a spectacular sunset…

…an even more special treat as the above phot was snapped looking east! The entire horizon was aglow with a pink hued skyline!

One bucket list adventure we wanted to go on last week but ran out of time was a cruise out to Cumberland Island National Seashore (CINS). So, with this unplanned extension of our stay, we headed down to the waterfront to catch the Cumberland Queen…

…and 45 minutes later we disembarked onto Cumberland Island.

This National Seashore is protected and managed by the National Park Service. Established in 1972, CINS is the largest of Georgia’s Golden Isles and features beaches, sand dunes, marshes, tropical forests, and a few freshwater lakes. As does Baxter State Park back home in Maine, CINS limits visitors to help preserve the pristine nature of the island and to enhance the visitors experience.

There is little development on the island, and one must bring all food and other supplies then ensure all trash is carried back ashore. For the adventurous camper, overnighting on the island is allowed in primitive campsites.

There is an extensive network of trails on Cumberland Island. Although there is a guided motorized tour available Kit and I decided to enjoy the island on foot and selected a loop trail that led from the ferry landing through dense tropical vegetation.

What a magical journey, photographs just do not adequately illustrate this beautiful place.

Walking along the sandy path one has the sense of how it may feel to be marooned on a deserted tropical island!

There are numerous animals that call Cumberland Island home, including these wild ponies we kept seeing grazing in the open meadows.

And this little fellow was spotted scurrying about on the edge of the meadow.

Every few miles there were old buildings with exhibits chronicling the islands past with strategically placed picnic tables for trekkers to rest…

…one of which we took advantage of for our picnic lunch.

At the far south of the island are the ruins of Dungeness Mansion.

In the mid 1980’s, Thomas Carnegie, the brother of steel magnate Andrew, purchased land on the southern end of the island and started building a 59 room estate home.

Photo from NPS

However, unfortunately he died before its completion so his wife finished Dungeness, then later bought more land and constructed homes nearby for the Carnegie children…

..and ultimately the family owned more than 90% of the island.

The last of the Thomas Carnegie family moved ashore in 1925, and the property started to be vandalized and eventually burned in 1959. Today the ruins are protected by the National Park Service as part of the CINS experience.

A couple of delightful young ladies Kit met on the boat and we kept crossing paths with along the hike were Alexa, and her mother Brenda.

Alexa is a newly minted US Army Officer stationed nearby, and her mom was down visiting from New Jersey. It was a pleasure meeting the two of them and sharing stories!

As we left the Dungeness Mansion, the trail led us south to an elevated boardwalk over a vast salt-marsh…

…where panoramic views can be enjoyed in the distance…

…or up close by using the provided binoculars.

The sturdy boardwalk allows one to travel over the marsh, enjoy the view, and watch for any wildlife while keeping your feet dry.

Once off the boardwalk, the trail then led East through the coastal dunes…

…and ultimately to the Atlantic Ocean…

…where miles and miles of pristine and undisturbed beaches lie.

Walking north on the hard-packed sand, we came to a flock of gulls minding their own business…

…until a dufus photographer tried to sneak up on them for a better shot, which caused…

…all heck to break loose…

…as the gulls squealed and squawked while taking flight, scaring the bijous out of the clueless photographer.

A mile up the beach, the trail turned to the west and once again dove into the woods…

…where another serene place of rest was provided.

From this point it was less than half a mile to the ferry landing, where we discovered that the days walk…

… amounted to a lot of steps!

Waiting for the return ferry, one of the National Park Rangers conducted an impromptu talk about some of the items she has collected along the shore. Some of which were not from the natural world and were detrimental to the health of the park’s birds and sea life.

Soon it was time to board the ferry for our cruise back to the mainland.

What a great day exploring yet another of our nations National Parks. If your travels ever find you in Southeast Georgia, do not let this opportunity pass…you will not regret it!

Disembarking in the town of Saint Mary’s, Kit and I decided to walk over to the Riverside Café for dinner where we both enjoyed their signature Greek Salad topped with a freshly made crab cake!

And to finish off the great day, we both chose a great desert…

…creamy Carrot Cake!

Well, this journal has exceeded my self-imposed page length, and the truck is still awaiting repairs…so I close this chapter chronicling our extended stay at King’s Bay, Georgia with an epic sunrise photo.

Good morning and until next time we wish for you the kind of great experiences we have enjoyed…well, except for the truck thing, which if not resolved might just cause us to settle in this beautiful area permanently!

Kit’s Bit’s
Despite the issue with the truck, having an extra few days to explore has been great! One thing Bill forgot to mention, the walk we took where we ran across the turtle, turned out to be a walk around the base! We had gone to find a mostly unused gate to the base and, rather than turn back once we found it, decided to take a nicely paved walk which turned out to be the perimeter around the base! We had no clue where we were going. Turns out, it was a 4 hour walk which logged 13,693 steps covering 5.1 miles on our iPhone Health App! Amazingly, no one from security came along to inquire about what we were up to. One other thing, just in case our kids notice… the photo of me (eating), my Mother’s and Grandmother’s ring is missing. Turns out, I had a bug bite, which caused my finger to swell up. Woke up in the middle of the night and panicked, Bill had to dig out his wire cutters and cut them off before my finger turned blue! This is the second time I’ve had this issue. First was in San Diego in the early 70’s when I was stung by a bee while taking clothes off the line. My finger did turn blue and I had to have my wedding ring cut to get it off.

5 thoughts on “Bill and Kit’s 2019 Excellent Adventure, Journal #12

  1. Thanks, as always, for sharing your (mostly happy) adventures. Cumberland Island National Seashore has been on my bucket list for decades. Good to visit there vicariously with you. The lack of security at the sub base is disconcerting. Maybe they are all on the Arizona border apprehending kids. Glad you did not lose a finger. I had a similar reaction a few years ago when my hand swelled to the size of a football. Well, maybe not quite that bad.

  2. Great shot of the black snake Bill. Never did see the gulls – but loved the photo of all of the terns on the beach. Drive safe when you get back on the road.

  3. We enjoy your adventures — your photos are great — and the photos of food give my stomach a growling response. See you soon. We just got home from our month in Venice FL


    Sure and interesting visit to sunny Georgia. the Cumberland island park sure was an interesting place and your 5 mile trek around the base tired me out! LOL
    that Sidney Lanier bridge reminded me of the 12 k Confederation bridge crossing on to PEI.
    Tabby concrete was a new construction material I had never heard of, very innovative utilizing oyster shells as a part of the mix. As usual the sea food from that area make our mouths water.
    I didn’t read if you got the new replacement parts for the truck???
    In any event, we suspect that you may have arrived home by the time you get this comment, WELCOME!!

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